PN ready to challenge financial imbalance between parties in court

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says unless party financing law addresses imbalance between parties, the PN is prepared to take the case to the Constitutional Court 

The Nationalist Party leader tonight called on Labour to divest itself of government and privately-owned properties that were expropriated in the 1970s and 1980s.

Simon Busuttil said that if Labour does not return the 28 expropriated properties and does not accept the opposition’s amendment to the party financing law, the PN will take the case to the Constitutional Court.

“We want justice to be done with the people and private families,” Busuttil said.

Accusing Labour of “hypocrisy” Busuttil said “while government has ruled out State funding it has properties which were either stolen from the State or from private properties.”

He added that while the opposition has every intention to vote in favour of the law, the PN would take all the necessary steps to ensure a level playing field between the two parties.

Insisting that political parties are crucial in democracy, Busuttil said “it’s either State funding for all or for nobody, but what government is proposing is public funding for Labour alone.”

Explaining that “the PN is not expecting anyone to pay for our debts,” he stressed “all we want is Labour to divest itself of expropriated government and privately-owned properties. Then we’ll be on an equal footing.”

“But since we expect government to refuse to do so, the opposition is proposing that all parties declare what public properties they own and what income these properties are generating on a yearly basis.”

The PN leader added that once this income is determined, the State should compensate the PN if there’s an imbalance between the two parties in Parliament.  

However, if government refuses this amendment, Busuttil said the PN was prepared to take the case to the Constitutional Court to ensure that the PN is not discriminated against. 

Busuttil said he decided to address the House to ensure that the opposition’s position is clear.

He added that the opposition wanted a level playing field between all parties, including parties not represented in Parliament.

“It is crucial to have a law that guarantees that there’s no discrimination between parties.”

He went on to note the irony in this, given that Labour has been financed by the State for long years through a number of public properties which were passed on to Labour

“While government has ruled out State funding it has properties which were either stolen from the State or from private families,” he said.

On whether previous PN governments took any action, he said that while the onus was on Labour to show goodwill and return the “stolen” properties, the previous administration had opened court proceedings against Labour over Australia Hall in Pembroke.

“But when Labour was elected last year, Joseph Muscat dropped the court case against Labour,” he explained. 

Following Buusttil’s speech, Labour MP and parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon turned the tables on the opposition and accused the PN of having benefitted for years from undeclared donations.

“Why is the opposition only speaking about the imbalance now? Wasn’t there an imbalance in the 2008 election? Wasn’t there an imbalance in the 2003 EU referendum and election?” Falzon asked.

Accusing the PN leader and MPs of having “selective amnesia,” Falzon said the opposition had no credibility in crying foul since it had benefitted from an unlevel playing field for long years.

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